I feel very much the outsider on this site, mainly because I'm not really reviewing many books. And that appears to be one of BookLikes' enormous strengths: Serious and top-quality reader reviews of quality books.
For some reason or other, I keep finding myself mired in the muck. And so it is with this . . . book.
It looks like a book. It's on Amazon and priced like a book. ($2.99 U.S., though I don't know about other places.) It's on Goodreads and listed as a book.
Oh yes, and it has reviews like a book. Lots and lots and lots of reviews on Amazon. A few on Goodreads. Mostly 5 star reviews. And most of the reviews suggest that the reviewers read . . . a book.
But it's only two chapters.
If you buy those two chapters -- for $2.99 -- you'll get free updates when other chapters are written. The next two, according to the author's post on Goodreads dated 3 July 2014, are being edited. (Some reviews,however, suggest that maybe you'll have to buy additional installments. It's not really clear.)
How many more will there be? Hell if I know. When will they be finished? Good question.
Why would someone do this?
Well the obvious answer seems to be "to make money."
The author states he has a Kickstarter campaign, and that these two chapters are the Kickstarter Sampler. What does that mean? Does it mean he's written this much and now he wants people to donate to his Kickstarter fund so he can write the rest of the book? Is this the way it's done now? You get people to pay you to do something before you've done it, and then you sell it to other people after you've done it?
But what if you're selling it to other people before you've done it?
And what if you're paying other people to tell your potential customers that what you haven't done is already great, so they should buy it even though you haven't done it?
Most of the reviews posted to The Sword of Agrippa on Amazon are from paid reviewers. I can't post that information on Amazon or Goodreads. I can only post it here and hope that some of the information trickles back to the other reviews. I feel guilty doing that. I feel as if I'm abusing the innocence and integrity of BookLikes.
Then again, at least BookLikes has some integrity.
Several of the 5-star reviews posted to The Sword of Agrippa on Amazon are from reviewers whose Goodreads accounts have already been deleted because they've been identified as fiverr sellers. Most of the other reviews are from accounts I've learned to recognize as sellers on fiverr. Few if any of the reviews are from genuine readers.
What would a genuine reader base a review on, anyway?
Does it make any difference that readers can maybe see through the fakery and therefore they didn't buy it or read it?
How bad is the fakery?
One reviewer writes "Just as i was about to put the book down, I couldn't! The deeper i got into the book the better it got. It started to become clearer and i was able to enjoy it."
How deep can you get into a book that you only have the first two chapters of?
Another describes the story as "...engaging and moves at a pace that neither hurries you along nor bores you with a slow speed. It flows so perfectly and keeps you drifting from page to page in one fluent motion." How can you tell how "fluent" the story is if there isn't any more of the story?
Another reviewer who "really enjoyed this book" praises it as "A visionary scientist's dream journeys into other worlds and times. The author does a good job immersing the reader in a rich and imaginative world that is well written."
A fourth claims, "To conclude, a stunning book and a reading experience that I'm unlikely to forget for a long time."
"To conclude?" But there is no conclusion! The conclusion hasn't been written! It may never be written! Then again, I guess one is unlikely to forget that which one hasn't experienced.
Some of the Amazon reviewers do state that what's being sold is only the beginning of the book, not the whole thing, but clearly others are at least allowing shoppers to infer that the book is complete. Is it just me, or is that slightly on the deceptive side?
It isn't enough that we have fake reviews all over the place. Now we have fake reviews for fake books, too?
I strongly suspect that no one is buying this. No one is buying any of these crappy, crappy, over-hyped, lied-about, fake reviewed books. No one is posting the negative reviews that shriek "What the fuck was that? I paid $2.99 for two fucking chapters?"
Maybe I should let it go. Maybe I should give up and let the fiverr shills and the sleazy book promoters post all their lying 5-star reviews. Maybe I should let the people who think they're going to make a lot of money writing absolute garbage put their shitty books up on Amazon and Smashwords. Maybe I should let the readers buy the crap and think they're reading great literature because "Whoozywatsits" and "MerryMary" and "Shop Doc" on Amazon all gave it five stars. (I made those names up. Anybody need a clever screen name to hide behind? I'll sell you one cheap. Free even. I love making up names.)
But I can't walk away from it. That's not who and what I am. I'm sure there are people laughing at my passion, and yeah, it kinda hurts a little to realize that. But I'd rather be laughed at than sneered at.
No book? No stars.